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no gutters?

Posted by schutjer (My Page) on
Thu, Oct 21, 10 at 12:43

We are looking at a home for sale, that has no gutters. It's a small post and beam home. Was built by owners from kit. woodlap outer, metal roof.

Do we need to be concerned about no gutters?

1400sq feet for main and 2ndfloor, and 900sqft in basement.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: no gutters?

Hi, Schutjer!
How deep are the eaves and the pitch of the roof?
Also, what climate are you in? Is the soffit vented? Is there living space up in the attic?

In my house in Alabama, which is zone 8B close to zone 9, we do not have any gutters. We do have a lot of rain. I'm planning to add some rain chains where the gables intersect.

I've never dealt with homes in colder climates. Hang on, I'm sure that someone will drop in to help very soon.


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RE: no gutters?

It's not common for houses to be built with gutters where I live (Dallas-Ft. Worth area) but a lot of people add them. We don't have gutters but I want them across the front because the water is pitting the sidewalk and eroding my flower bed.


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RE: no gutters?

I don't have gutters either and was wondering about them. we don't get rain often but sometimes we get tons (for us).

it does make a ditch around the edges of the place - when I plant flowers I won't like it ... in the past it didn't really matter to me tho.

will have to check out the rain chains!


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RE: no gutters?

When I lived in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, we did not have gutters. As ML said, you get a LOT of rain there. The gutters in that climate are more trouble than they are worth, they overflow even when cleaned out because the rain comes so hard and heavy that the gutters cannot keep up. What good are gutters if they overflow? Not much. So houses did not have them and the rain did dig little trenches around the perimeter of the houses. We lived in a house with pier-and-beam construction, so there was no danger of little ponds of water at the roof drip line backing up into the house. I think that houses on slabs were just situated to be higher than the surrounding yard so that the rain drained away from the home.

Up here in Michigan, everybody has gutters. Since we have basements, all that water hitting the ground at the roof drip line would stay near the foundation and might make the basement wet. And since our rain does not fall as heavily as in Baton Rouge, the gutters do not overflow. That is, unless they get clogged with debris.

My first MI house had terrible problems with ice dams backing up. I knew that it had to do with the heat from the house leaking into the attic space and making the attic warm, hence the roof was warm. Ideally, the attic is insulated enough that the heat stays in the home and the attic stays cold and the roof stays cold and does not go through daily freeze/thaw cycles with snow on the roof. Those cycles cause ice dams - which form at the eaves and cause the snow to stay on the roof and melt and thaw with the sun each day and then water backs up under your roof shingles and gets inside the house and makes ceilings and walls wet and moldy. Shingles only keep water flowing DOWN from getting in your house. If water somehow flows UP, you have leaks.

So you need to keep gutters clean so ice does not form from backed up water and you have to keep the underside of the roof cold. If the house was built with a poor design for this or if someone put the attic insulation so that it blocks the air flow in the eaves - you get ice dams. My house was probably a combination of the two. When we re-insulated, we hoped that the problem would be solved, but it wasn't. So instead, we have to use a roof rake to get snow off the roof before it turns to ice. Waving around a metal scoop on the end of a 20 ft pole near the electrical line to the house is scary.

To try to remedy the ice dam problem, when we replaced the leaking gutters, we did not get regular gutters, but got "Rain Handler" (trade mark) gutters. They do not hold the water in a trough. They are a few vanes of bent aluminum that catch the rain as it falls off the edge of the roof and redirects it to spray in a wide pattern on the ground. There is no little ditch at the roof drip line, and the water is supposed to spread out and be absorbed by the soil, so it does not cause a wet basement, either. They also advertised that it solved the ice dam problem. No, it did not work. Instead of having a row of pretty icicles hanging from gutters, I had two rows of pretty icicles - one hanging from the roof edge and one from the Rain Handler. Nice ice dams on the roof, too. I also learned that the Rain Handler should not ever be used above a concrete driveway in a cold climate - but not until a few years of freeze and thaw cycles also tore my concrete into little bits!

schutjer, I see you are in NE Iowa. Your climate is similar to mine, but you get the wind, storm, and cold from the Plains in winter. You may not need gutters with a post and beam foundation if the slope of the yard is right. You might ask at the County Extension Agent's office for some advice. Or see if there is a building council in your yellow pages. Have you investigated metal roofing sites? I wonder if gutters are routinely used with metal roofs?


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RE: no gutters?

I'm in Cleveland, and all houses I've seen have gutters.

They are really important when you have a basement. If you don't have them, it's often going to be the case that you will have some level of water intrusion or erosion/weakening of the soil around the basement.

Even if the slope around the house is good, they are still essential.

Ours were not properly installed by the PO and now we will have to pay to get them fixed. The one that leaks has caused some minor water intrusion in that area. However, minor water intrusion can quickly turn to major water intrusion. Water+basements=real bad.

I didn't even know you could build a house with gutters! How wild is that!


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RE: no gutters?

Who would have thought to discuss gutters. I "assumed" everyone at least considered them, regardless of where they live. Some house insurance will not cover unless there are gutters and part of the inspection when buying. Obviously it depends upon where you live.

Rain chains....have wanted one for a couple of years. Those darn things are expensive and if someone has an idea on how to make them I'd love knowing. They look simple enough to make. You do have to have gutters as they take advantage of where the water flows. At least most of the ones I have seen have a connection for the gutter. I could be totally wrong.


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RE: no gutters?

I'm with emagineer -- I think rain chains take the place of the downspout, not the gutter itself. I have one spot on my house (also a post-and-beam, an MCM) that needs a rain chain, because a downspout would be unsightly in that particular spot. The builders/owners may have had aesthetics in mind when they skipped the gutters. Sometimes with a very simple, stark structure, like a pst-and-beam can be, gutters and downspouts can be very jarring.

I would think that with a basement, gutters would be a necessity. Another option might be digging a french drain under the drip line so that the water is carried away from the house. But that could involve grading and more work in the long run than installing the gutters.


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RE: no gutters?

I don't like our gutters and downspouts, but feel they necessary, especially to protect my flowers. Also, they keep mud-spatter off the foundation.

I've seen the pretty rain-chains that have cups or bells--are those the ones you want? Don't have any idea of price, but I know that our local hardware store sells 20' tow chains for $35-$40. They come with a hook on each end, and could be separated to make two chains. Would that work?


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RE: no gutters?

I've visited the rain chain sites online, and they can be pretty pricey. Most sell the basic 8 foot chain and then increments to extend that as long as you need.

However, it does not have to be fancy pretty chain. While we were in Costa Rica, which gets a ton of rain seasonally, the villa where we stayed was two story, with those lovely tiles on it. And at each spot where the gutters came together, there was a chain coming down. It was a real metal CHAIN too, regular links. I'm sure it was sort of light weight, I did not try to heft it up to see, but it was firmly attached at the top so there was NO other downspout installed.

I think the rain chains can handle a great volume of water without any backups. However, if you have a lot of really cold weather, that might be the formula for a really big icicle from roof to ground!!

We have an old gutter across the back deck, a relatively short run of it. Maybe 14 feet long at the most. No ends on it, no nothing. And it is almost bent down from the weight of the rain from this small back porch, which is also protected from the HEAVY rain of the main house. It is one of the things I plan to remove when we change the porch roofline.

There is an art to having a properly operating roof up north, and it does not seem to be the same as ours down south. DH has problems with ice dams up here in MA. But as I think about it, none of my neighbors in AL have gutters.


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RE: no gutters?

No gutters here. Would be a real problem with all the snow we get. Constantly tearing them off the house. I only see short gutters over door walk ways.Most times doors are on gable ends. We do not have a basement so that might make a difference. I would think rain chains would just freeze up here and make huge ice cycles. We have trouble with that with out chains to help. LOL


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RE: no gutters?

Like others have said ... it's all about the basement. If you have a basement, you gotta have gutters or you're going to have water issues.

Right now our house has no gutters because they haven't been put on yet during the remodel and it poured this weekend it was horrible coming in and out of the house. I got drenched just walking out because of the rain running of the roof.

I think gutters are ugly, but in a lot of cases they are a necessary evil.


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RE: no gutters?

You are right Chris, rain chains would be frozen in the winter here. But their silent chimes would be nice in spring and fall. I just can't think of paying the price for them though, so might as well wait until something creative comes into my head.

Does snow never melt in the winter where you are? Or just really heavy snows which would damage the gutters? I should get on the weather cams and start watching.

We just got our first snow yesterday...was a surprise and ground too warm to keep any in sight. Definitely winter around the corner.


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RE: no gutters?

I was watching THIS OLD HOUSE the other night, and they were talking about redoing your yard to make downspouts obsolete. In fact, they were saying that the objective was to keep the runoff from getting into the storm drains, or the municipal systems, which is becoming more of a problem each year, as we pave more ground all the time. They were discussing a big city which had a program to help remove the downspouts from a whole bunch of houses. And advised the people how to fix their yards to deal with the water.

Did anyone else watch that episode? So evidently even up north they are looking for other ways to deal with rainwater.


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RE: no gutters?

Yes, ML, we all disconnected our downspouts from drainage systems that took the rainwater from the downspouts directly to the tiling/drainage systems underground around our houses that hooked up to the city sewers. We actually had to plug up the holes going down to the drain systems to ensure you can't use them anymore. Instead, the gutters lead to downspouts that now spew the water out above ground. You may extend the guttering out away from your house to keep it away from your foundation, or add those plastic green or brown splash blocks that direct it away from your foundation, or even add those plastic accordion-folded drain extenders. Whatever you choose, you just can't hook up to drains that take the rainwater to the sewage plants.

I have watched city after city do "storm sewer separation" projects that take relatively clean rainwater and divert it away so that it does not end up in sewage treatment plants. This is because when it rains, the excess water in the sewage system will make the sewage plant become overloaded and that means that raw sewage gets dumped out of the sewage treatment plants without being treated.

My front garden has a downspout from the house that gives my rain-loving Astilbe the extra water they crave. People are learning to garden with the extra run off from roofs, making "rain gardens" that use plants that like to keep their feet wet.


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RE: no gutters?

Nancy,
What an interesting concept. I wonder what other areas have done this? And it must be due to the amount of rain.

I'm in CO, we actually pay for water run off based on the size of property and our water bill. Most of this is due to maintaining sewer systems (although there are none in my area, few sidewalks.

We have what are called acquaducts, large lakes under the earth that provide us with water. NM has the same, not sure of other states. They are treasures and watched closely as these are getting lower as time marches on. Snow run off, rain, replenishes these. It is also illegal to use rain barrels.

On the other side is CA, which gets half of our water from the Colorado River, they even put in huge pipes to pull it from, they run for miles through states to get there. They do pay for the water, but we still end up with dry years which become a problem and water is limited.

CO is also known as the state that began xeriscape. I haven't figured out why they don't require HOAs to use this or our own parks and gov. buildings. They always have a small patch somewhere to show what it looks like.

I have noticed that a lot of yards are not being watered lately, grass is brown and that people are landscaping with a lot more rock.

Sorry, got so intriqued with your post I went off subject big time.


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RE: no gutters?

I've heard that before about CO & NM. Doesn't make sense to not allow rain barrels if it would cut down on public water use.


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RE: no gutters?

It sounds like states that outlaw rain barrels are saying that rainwater is the property of all the people and it is needed in the aquaducts, so keeping it for your own use is theft. Is that right, Emagineer?


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RE: no gutters?

Yes, the aquaducts belong to nature and are the source for water. They keep strong details on the level of water at all times. There is always news somewhere about thier getting low and posing problems for the future. Rain water, wherever it goes, is replenishing the aquaducts. Which is why we can't collect it.


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